In an economy where cuts to higher education have become the norm, college tuition continues to rise to cover the lack of funding. However, in a recent article by the Atlantic titled What’s More Expensive Than College? Not Going to College, the author explores the cost of not attending college.
Citing a study by the International Youth Foundation, the article compares the cost of NEETs (Not Engaged in Employment/Education or Training) across the globe.
“A 2012 U.S. study put the social cost per NEET youth at $37,450, when you factored in lost earnings, public health spending, and other factors. That brings the total cost of 6.7 million NEET American youths to $4.75 trillion, equal to nearly a third of GDP, or half of U.S. public debt.”
Countries with a lower percentage of NEETs include Portugal, Canada, France, Germany, and Norway.
The article also points to other data such as:
“- College graduates currently earn 80 percent more than people who do not complete high school.
– A 2009 McKinsey report estimated that if we raised our education performance to the level of Korea, we could improve the US economy by more than $2 trillion. (We could, in other words, add the GDP of Italy to our economy with education reform.)
– A study from NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research) estimated that the benefit of a good teacher over an average teacher could improve a student’s future lifetime earnings by $400,000. “
The earning potential of a two or four year college degree is even greater when compared to other personal investments like the stock market or gold. An associates degree has a 20 percent return. Investment in gold has less than a 5% return.
(See graph above– click to enlarge)